Benefit figures up, show modest hiring
WASHINGTON — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 367,000, a level consistent with only modest hiring.
Weekly applications increased last week by 4,000 from the previous week’s level of 363,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The previous week was revised higher from an initial reading of 359,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, was unchanged at 375,000.
Retail spending rate goes down
NEW YORK — Americans may have slowed their spending in September after splurging during the start of the busy back-to-school shopping season in the month before. But most importantly, they were still spending.
September sales rose 3.9 percent – a slowdown from the 6 percent rise in August – as 22 retailers like Macy’s and Costco reported mixed results, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. Still, given the economic and political uncertainty that weighs on many Americans right now, analysts say the results are an encouraging sign for stores as they head into what’s traditionally the busiest shopping period of the year in November and December.
“This should set up to be a good holiday season,” said Ken Perkins, the president of Retail Metrics LLC, a research firm.
First SC-built plane ready for delivery
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — The first Boeing 787 manufactured in South Carolina is being delivered to Air India in a formal ceremony.
The plane will be turned over to the airline in a ceremony today at Boeing’s North Charleston plant. The aircraft is then to fly out of Charleston International Airport on Saturday.
The aircraft is the first assembled at Boeing’s new $750 million assembly plant that opened last year adjacent to the airport. It made its maiden flight of about 2,000 miles over the Atlantic Ocean last spring.
Boeing plans to assemble four of the planes at its South Carolina plant this calendar year. It hopes to be producing about 31/2 planes a month by the end of 2013. The 787 is made partly from composite materials, including carbon fiber-reinforced plastic.
Mortgage rates set record lows again
WASHINGTON — Average rates on fixed mortgages fell to record lows for the second straight week. The declines have led more homeowners to refinance, a trend that could help boost the economy.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan dropped to 3.36 percent. That’s down from last week’s rate of 3.40 percent, which was the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.
The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing option, dipped to 2.69 percent, down from last week’s record low of 2.73 percent.
In other news
MORE THAN A BILLION people now log onto Facebook each month. That’s double the 500 million it hit in July 2010 . The latest milestone amounts to nearly half of the world’s roughly 2.5 billion Internet users.
– Associated Press